A federal appeals court on Friday ruled against President Trump in his attempt to quash a subpoena for his financial records from House Democrats.
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of judges for the Federal Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the subpoena, issued by the Democratic-led House Oversight and Reform Committee, is “valid and enforceable.”
Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) cheered the ruling, calling it a “fundamental and resounding victory for Congressional oversight, our Constitutional system of checks and balances, and the rule of law.”
“For far too long, the President has placed his personal interests over the interests of the American people,” Cummings said in a statement Friday. “After months of delay, it is time for the President to stop blocking Mazars from complying with the Committee’s lawful subpoena.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the ruling “a victory for our democracy, as the courts reaffirm the Congress’s authority and responsibility to conduct oversight and consider legislation on behalf of the American people.”
Jay Sekulow, a personal lawyer for Trump, said in a statement that the president’s team is “reviewing the opinion and evaluating all options including appeals.”
The Democratic-led House Oversight and Reform Committee issued a subpoena in April to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking years’ worth of financial records on Trump and several of his business entities.
Cummings told committee members that he wanted the information from Mazars to investigate whether Trump has engaged in illegal conduct, has any conflicts of interest or is complying with the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause and to investigate whether Trump has accurately reported his finances to federal ethics officials. Cummings said that the committee’s interest in these topics will inform its review of legislative proposals.
Trump filed a lawsuit challenging the subpoena, arguing that it lacks a legitimate legislative purpose. A federal district court judge ruled in favor of the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Trump appealed.
In the appeals court’s majority ruling, the judges said that the Oversight panel was engaged in a “legitimate legislative investigation” when it issued the subpoena and that the subpoena seeks information on a subject that could be a focus of legislation.
“In sum, we detect no inherent constitutional flaw in laws requiring Presidents to publicly disclose certain financial information,” the majority wrote. “And that is enough.”
The majority opinion was written by Judge David Tatel, who was appointed by former President Clinton.
Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, dissented. She argued that the majority was wrong to rule that the Oversight and Reform Committee can issue this subpoena for legislative purposes, since the committee is seeking the information to investigate presidential wrongdoing, which is a function of Congress’s impeachment powers, not its legislative powers.
“The majority breaks new ground when it determines Congress is investigating allegations of illegal conduct against the President, yet nonetheless upholds the subpoena as part of the legislative power,” she wrote.
But the majority opinion also argued that the dissent “cites nothing in the Constitution or case law—and there is nothing—that compels Congress to abandon its legislative role at the first scent of potential illegality and confine itself exclusively to the impeachment process.”
The fight over the Oversight Committee’s subpoena is one of several legal battles involving Trump’s efforts to keep his financial information private.
In one of the other cases, Trump is challenging a subpoena New York prosecutors issued to Mazars for his financial records as well as his tax returns. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit on Monday, and Trump has appealed.
Updated at 1:03 p.m.